BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
After two long meetings — including one that went to 3 a.m. — the city of San Mateo does not have a mayor due to an utterly deadlocked city council, with two new council members successfully in blocking the process.
There are currently four people on the city council — Amourence Lee, Adam Loraine, Lisa Diaz Nash and Robert Newsom Jr. Of the four, Lee is the only council member who sat at the dais before Monday night and was assumed to be in line to become the city’s next mayor. The other three were sworn in Monday.
The council only has four members because Diane Papan resigned in order to join the state Assembly.
On Monday, after the three new council members were sworn in, the council was expected to hold its first two votes — to select its new mayor and vice mayor — a typically ceremonial vote. However, Loraine’s motion to select Lee, his political ally, was defeated repeatedly by Diaz Nash and Newsom. The meeting stretched on until 3 a.m.
The council reconvened Wednesday in hopes of being able to select a new mayor. But once again, Diaz Nash and Newsom blocked Loraine’s attempts to nominate Lee.
Diaz Nash and Newsom say they want to wait until the fifth council member is appointed so the city is best represented. The two also have said during both meetings that they are concerned by the power the mayor has to appoint a new council member if there is a deadlock.
According to the city’s charter, which lays out how the city is run and is approved by voters, if the city council cannot pick a new member within 30 days of a council vacancy occurring, the mayor selects the new member.
It is not clear how a deadlocked vote for the new council member will be resolved without a new mayor.
“We’ve never had only four people on council to appoint a mayor and deputy mayor. I believe that we fill the seat and then appoint the mayor and deputy mayor, it’s that simple,” Newsom said. “This has never happened before…(we are in) uncharted territory.”
Both Newsom and Diaz Nash said during Wednesday night’s meeting that they plan to vote for Lee to become mayor after the council selects its new member.
Lee and Loraine want to follow the process that was planned by the previous council to select the city’s new mayor and vice mayor, and then appoint the new council member.
Newsom and Diaz Nash are aligned on housing policy. Lee and Loraine believe in a different policy.
Loraine beat out the slow-growth candidate Rod Linhares while Newsom beat out pro-growth candidate Sarah Fields.
San Mateo, just like all cities on the Peninsula, is in the midst of creating a Housing Element, a state-mandated plan for new homes. The state has given San Mateo a quota of 7,015 new homes.
Just after midnight, and after almost 15 minutes of silence by the city council, City Manager Drew Corbett asked to end the meeting.
“Sitting up here and waiting one another out is not the best use of anyone’s time,” Corbett said.
In the end, the council ended its meeting to be picked up on Monday after the council picks its new member.